'India cannot always be at odds with Pakistan' - Kuldip Nayar

India cannot always be at odds with Pakistan  By Kuldip Nayar
September 14, 2011, Express Tribune
Former national security adviser MK Narayanan, now the governor of West Bengal, has always been a hawk. That he differed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on improving relations with Pakistan, does not come as a surprise to those who have followed his career from the days of his service in the intelligence agencies. Even then, his reports are said to have been anti-Pakistan. Such bureaucrats, on both sides, have not allowed normalisation between the two countries. And they are still at it.

I was amazed when Narayanan was appointed as the national security adviser (NSA). I could tell why, when I was told that he was close to the ‘dynasty’. His loyalty was tested during Mrs Indira Gandhi’s authoritarian rule and he came out on top. In the beginning, there were two advisers, one for politics and another for security. When former foreign secretary JN Dixit, heading the political side died, both segments came under Narayanan, thanks again to his proximity to the ‘dynasty’.
I admire the patience of Singh who put up with Narayanan for such a long time. Maybe, the prime minister could not convince the ‘dynasty’ that Narayanan should be moved elsewhere because he was not on the same page with him when it came to relations between India and Pakistan. Probably, the history of rapprochement between the two countries could have been different if Narayanan had not been the NSA.

A US diplomat cable released by the WikiLeaks says that when Mamohan Singh spoke about India’s shared destiny with Pakistan, Narayanan reportedly said: “You have a shared destiny, we do not.” There is no reason to disbelieve the report, particularly when India’s Foreign Office (FO) has expressed its inability to comment on it. Narayanan is the one who can throw light but he has preferred to keep silent on this aspect, although he has said that India wanted the custody of David Headley, a US citizen, who has had a hand in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Narayanan’s successor, Shiv Shankar Menon, was high commissioner at Islamabad. I found him to be a person who believed that India and Pakistan should be on the best of terms. I believe he has, of late, undergone a change, not on people-to-people contact, but the limit to which India should go to make up with Pakistan. He was not in favour of separating terrorism from talks as Singh had agreed at Sharm el-Sheikh. Menon is not yet a hawk, like Narayanan, but reportedly differs with Singh, who is willing to go the extra mile to make up with Pakistan.

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